Before shopping for a piece of land, you should develop a general idea of where you'd like to make a purchase. You can go for an exploratory drive and use online resources to help you.In other words, you should be shopping for the community at the same time you shop for your land, and use Google Maps to scope out an area. When you've scored a win in both categories -- community and land -- you'll know you've made a good choice.
Buying vacant land may not be exactly the same as buying a house, but similar rules apply. You should always know what you're getting yourself into.Buying a vacant lot is an important and complex decision, just like any real estate purchase. For starters, there are plenty of reasons to buy a parcel of land. If you buy a house, it's probably so you can live in it; but with land, you could choose to build your own house, use the property as a long-term investment or even to start up a business. Property also introduces a host of issues you don't normally face when buying a house. There are all sorts of restrictions that could apply to a vacant lot -- you might not be able to build a house on it at all.
Permits: Just about everything you build is going to require a permit.One of the most important reason construction permits are important is they help protect the land and keep you honest to building codes, and those building codes ensure you can't haphazardly build a structure that's going to collapse on itself like a house of cards.
Flooding: Unless you're buying a vacant lot with the goal of turning land into a swampy mess, flooding is no good. Flood zones are clearly defined with letter designations. Zone A means a 1 percent chance of annual flooding -- flood insurance is required for building here. Zones X or C are the ideal ratings -- that means a less than. 2% chance of annual flooding.
Surveying: When you look at property boundaries on a map (in real estate, often called a plat) it won't be immediately evident how those boundaries line up with the land itself. That's where surveying comes in. Professional surveyors research your property and use a plat to determine and mark the exact property boundaries of your vacant lot. When you look into buying a piece of property, it's possible a survey has been done recently. The evidence of a survey should be visible on the property with markers identifying the corner boundaries You may even come across evidence of a survey when investigating the paperwork of a vacant lot yourself.
Easements: With easements, we delve into the world of real estate law. According to Merriam-Webster, an easement is "an interest in land owned by another that entitles its holder to a specific limited use or enjoyment" imagine you find that perfect piece of property. It has everything you're looking for: a lush, dense forest, a babbling brook and a clearing with an amazing view perfect for your dream house. But there's a problem: There's no public road with direct access to the property, and the only way to access it is via a private road owned by your would-be neighbor. That's where easements come in.
Road Access: Road access might sound like a no-brainer, but it's a surprisingly complex issue when you're purchasing a vacant lot. In urban areas, it's rarely a problem -- but in the countryside, rural land for sale could potentially be cut off from a major road and be available only via private access. This can introduce a number of problems. If land truly isn't accessible via public roadways, it might not have access to city water or sewage. You could end up requiring a septic system and a well to handle those basic utilities, which will add to the construction costs. More important, however, is the issue of access. A public road obviously guarantees a route to a vacant lot at all times. But when private roads enter into the equation, things get complicated.
Utilities: Those of you looking to invest in property and keep it pristine and unaltered won't have much use for utilities. For everyone else, they're a vital element of the equation. Any vacant lot you're eyeing for a home or business will need utility access. You know the drill -- electric for power, gas for heat, phone lines for communication. You'll want some or all of those piped into your property when construction begins. One way to bypass this concern entirely is to purchase vacant land that already has utilities installed
Ordinances and Covenants: Land destined to be built on or sold is typically carved up into smaller parcels that make up subdivisions. The land in a subdivision likely already has some restrictions placed upon it that you'll want to know about before buying. If the vacant lot you're eying is in the middle of an already developed community, chances are good that a homeowner's association governs that area. Homeowner's associations command membership fees and set the rules for behavior and decorum in the area. Following their rules could dictate how frequently you cut your grass, where you park your car or even what kind of pets you have.
Zoning Restrictions: Zoning laws govern what can and can't be done with land. Essentially, zoning laws are the reason you don't have a Walmart in your back yard or a sewage processing plant right next to a town square. Zoning is a bit more complex than that, of course: It's the division of land into subdivisions that will have varying restrictions of what can be built on each piece of property. Make sure you'd even be allowed to build a house on a vacant lot before buying and trying to start construction.
Costs: Real estate is an investment of time and money -- and the more time you spend preparing, the more ready you'll be to spend your money wisely. What kind of expenses can you expect to incur when buying a vacant lot? At some point during the purchasing process, you might want to consider title insurance. It "protects owners and lenders against any property loss or damage they might experience because of liens, encumbrances or defects in the title to the property. Consider it your shield against legal complications involving your property. While title insurance isn't necessarily required during a property transaction, if you apply for a bank loan or a mortgage, the financial institution may recommend you purchase title insurance to protect their investment and your own.
Location: Location, location, location. The old real estate adage nails our first, most basic concern in land purchasing dead on. Think about it: No matter why you're purchasing a piece of property, nothing is more important than location. If you're making an investment, don't buy land with no resale value. If you're aiming on starting up a business, don't buy land completely isolated from potential customers. And if you're looking to build a house, don't buy land you can't build on.
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